Sunday, October 30, 2011

Italy: Verona

I spent 10 days in Italy earlier this month. Apart from the hordes of people (the Vatican City was a particularly horrendous experience), which I'm not absolutely sure one can complain about when you're on holiday being a tourist too, I absolutely loved it. There is far too much to describe fully, you're probably relieved to hear, so here are just some highlights, starting with Verona.

 It's a pleasant and slightly quieter city than some. Worth visiting is the arena or coliseum, still used for opera performances and almost intact (as opposed to the Colosseum in Rome) apart most of the outer wall, the remaining three or four arches of which were anyway covered in an enormous billboard as they were being restored. This was a common theme in Italy - the Bridge of Sighs was almost entirely obliterated by advertising but then I suppose that's how they afford the upkeep. There was also the notorious Casa di Guilietta, or Juliet's house, the home of the Dell Capello family, supposedly the inspiration for the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet. Rubbing the right breast of the statue outside is supposed to bring you luck and you can also pose on the balcony. All a load of complete bunkum of course, both are relatively recent additions to the attractions, and I found the amount of graffiti amazing, even including people's wads of chewing gum which they seemed to have stuck on just to get a space of white (or grimy cream) to write their initials and hearts on. I much preferred the beautiful churches.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

100 things: curry in Tooting

I was so rapt with first the excellent beer and then the excellent curry, that I almost forgot to take any pictures at all of this night out, but it was definitely one to love. We started in The Selkirk, an excellent pub not fifteen minutes walk from my new workplace. It's not quite as cosy as I ideally like my pubs, and didn't have enough sofas, or enough tables tucked into corners, but there was a fire going which I welcomed after a day in my rather chilly office. I had a pint of Sambrook's Wandle. I chose it because it's a local beer, and it was most enjoyable. Makes me think I should do a whole entry on trying different local beers to prove that London can do local produce too. I need to find a beer expert though, because I'm not sure I have a very sophisticated palate.

I've had various suggestions about curry houses but we ended up going to the Lahore Kahari on a recommendation and it was really good - spicy, tasty and incredibly cheap for a three course meal, helped by it being Bring Your Own. There was some confusion about our order, and we didn't quite get what we'd originally asked for, but we didn't mind too much. We started with onion bhajis, fairly standard, and lamb chops, the spiciest part of our meal, thin, well cooked and packed with flavour. Then one of the specials, lamb keema kahari, which was minced and again very flavoursome, with sag aloo.

Another couple of beers with our meal, and some little Indian puddings to finish, absolutely dripping with syrup, of course, and we absolutely rolled out of the place feeling like we wouldn't be able to eat again for a week. Not bad for £25 plus the beers from the off licence. Thanks to Agnes and Leah for the suggestion, and to Anna for going with me!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A comma not a full stop

I haven't disappeared. Not that I think anyone is going to notice, but just in case. I haven't done any more things to love in London since I got back, though I have one planned in on Wednesday, and hopefully maybe Friday too. I want to put up some pictures from my holiday to Italy, which was amazing (despite the number of other people enjoying the country too) but they're going to take a bit of sorting out. Anyway, still here - this blog will keep going. In fact, it might be inspiring a similar enterprise down in Devon. Anyone else want to do a "things to love" about where they live?! Or got any suggestions for fantastic things to do in Devon (north, preferably) which I can pass on?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

100 things: Claudia's house

The house of one of my good friends is not really accessible to most people, of course, but I think merits inclusion for several reasons - quite apart from the fact that once it had been suggested, she would have been extremely offended if it had been left out. One good actual reason is that it has now housed two friends of mine as lodgers who just needed somewhere to stay and found a home; another is that it is a brilliant place of gatherings, parties, meetings and conversations; another, well. Everyone's got at least one friend in London, don't they? It's definitely something great about this city: so many people I've met elsewhere are here now, or have lived here once, or will live here one day.

So for the purposes of this blog, let's have Claudia's house represent not only its welcoming cosy self, where I love to hang out, but also all the houses of all the friends I have in London - and their hospitality. The photo is of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and bagels, apple juice and coffee from freshly ground beans, eaten this Monday morning in the garden, in the sun, after a late night of drinking and laughing and dancing. Thanks to Andy for pointing out that this really should be on my list!


I'm off on holiday for the next two weeks, so no updates for a while - I'll be doing more when I get back.